About Me

My name is Paul Garrigan, and I’m a mindfulness teacher (mindfulness program manager) at Hope Rehab Thailand. I originally come from Ireland, but I spent my twenties in England and now live in Thailand. As well as being a mindfulness coach, I am a registered nurse and freelance addiction writer.

A Bit More About My Drinking History

I was born in Dublin in 1969 and spent my early years in Sallynoggin before my family moved to Shankill. I discovered alcohol during my early teens and used it as a means to cope with my parents’ break-up. Alcohol had always intrigued me and my family problems provided the perfect excuse to experiment. During those early years I would always vomit after drinking but this did nothing to dissuade me – drinking was a skill I felt determined to master.

I briefly went to live with my father in Cork after my parents’ separation, but problems with alcohol, and a few brushes with the law, meant a return to live back in Dublin. During my time in Cork I was expelled from school. In just over a year I had gone from the top class in one school to the bottom class in another and then out of school altogether. I turned sixteen that summer so it wasn’t a problem. I found work in a supermarket in Dun Laoghaire and had enough money to drink in pubs – I felt like I’d found heaven.

At eighteen years of age I left Dublin to go live in England. I found work in a bar in Oxford and could now drink all day long. My drinking became a problem and two years later I returned to Dublin where I attended an out-patient treatment program for alcohol abuse. I thought the real problem was other people and not my drinking. I returned to the UK but didn’t remain sober for long. My addictive behavior continued to deteriorate to such an extent that I had a mental breakdown and ended up begging on the streets of London.

At twenty five I entered my second treatment program and managed to stay sober for 24 months. During the previous five years I had been able to continue my education and somehow managed to get my ‘A’ levels which meant that I could go to university. I decided that I wanted to work as a nurse and so began a three year training program. I also started back drinking.

I qualified as a nurse despite my return to alcohol. I enjoyed my new profession but my addiction made my life miserable most of the time. After a couple of years, I decided that going to work in Saudi Arabia would be a great idea. I hoped the fact that alcohol was banned would keep me sober. A medical prior to my move to Saudi showed elevated liver function results which suggested that my liver was being damaged by my alcohol abuse. I consoled myself with the thought that Saudi would mean a life free of addiction. This did not prove to be the case. In Saudi I found that there was lots of illegal booze available and things became worse instead of better.

While on holiday in Vietnam, I made the decision not to return to Saudi – I felt sure that I would drink myself to death if I did. I found work teaching in Thailand and over the next few years my mental and physical health deteriorated further. I more or less gave up any hope of escape from addiction. Six years had passed since the doctor’s warning about my liver, and I suspected that even if I managed to give up the booze I would be dead before forty. I continued drinking.

I had become interested in meditation as a teenager, and I had always returned to this during my sober periods. I began turning up at temples in Thailand for meditation retreats in the hope that these would cure me. At one 26 intensive retreat at Wat Rampoeng in Chiang Mai, I experienced a profound sense of inner-peace, and I knew that this was what I’d been looking for all my life. I drank again soon after leaving this meditation retreat, and the fact I’d experienced such mental freedom meant the hell of addiction felt even worse – I see this now as the beginning of the end.

In June 2006 I was living in a Thai village and drunkenly surfing the internet for any solution to my drinking problem – this was something that I did regularly. I came across a website for Wat Thamkrabok – another temple. Something about this treatment option excited me, and for the first time in years I felt real hope about the possibility of escape from addiction. I checked myself into this facility within a couple of days of hearing about it.

Wat Thamkrabok is a Buddhist temple in Saraburi province Thailand. It specializes in treating addicts and is famous for using a daily vomiting session as part of the approach. The other unique thing about the temple is the Satja vow – a promise never to drink again. If you relapse you cannot return to the temple because the vow can only be taken once. Wat Thamkrabok helps addicts from all over Thailand and the rest of the world.

My addiction ended in June 2006 at Wat Thamkrabok. My life today is more wonderful than I could ever have expected. Of course, things aren’t always perfect, but I experience a sense of inner ‘okayness’ that never goes away – I credit my regular mindfulness practice for most of this improvement. I got married soon after leaving the temple and my son was born a year after that.

In 2010 my memoir of addiction and recovery Dead Drunk was released by Maverick House

In this Irish TV show interview I talk about my story:

You can contact me at; info@paulgarrigan.com

Latest posts by Paul Garrigan (see all)

35 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi Paul,

    just found your blog today. Great piece of work the bits that I’ve already managed to read. I’m a little pushed for time at the moment, but I’ll be back to read the rest later.

    I myself have written freelance articles, however not on the scale that you have. I’m interested in finding out more about freelancing and publishing. So I might possibly be dropping you a line and picking your brains in the near future.

    Once again a great blog and I shall look forward to having a good read tonight.

    Cheers!

  2. Hi Paul, I found your website somehow and enjoyed reading your story. I also appreciate your honesty about your drinking, and teaching. Life is too short to not do what you love. You found your passion, and that is the key to life.

    I am sure you know many people in Thailand by now, and was wondering what your thoughts are about the “night life” there. There is a reason I ask this, and can fill you in another time. I came across an article that was so disturbing to me, and I wanted to talk to you about it. It is about the world of “entertainment” there. It seems to come with many benefits.

    Anyhow, I was wondering what your favorite subject is to write about?

    Thank you

    1. Thank you Leticia. I really enjoy talking about second chances and how we can all get them. I really manage to mess up my life for many years but now I’m getting a second chance. I hope this inspires other people to do the same.

  3. Congratulations on your new life and having the courage to talk about your old one.

    I’m fairly certain I found you through Talen’s website. Looking forward to reading the rest of your entries.

  4. Hi Paul
    I came across your site by accident just now, can’t quite recall how I did that..
    I also went to Thamkrabok, in July 2005. After I came out unfortunately I had another 3 weeks of chaos before finding AA. And after some initial relapses I’ve been sober since Jan 01 2006. I attend regular meetings in BKK. I can’t recall if I’ve met you or not…?
    Sobriety is a great journey, a 2nd life..!
    Are you living in Bangkok?
    A.

    1. Hi A, I’m glad you found me. It is always nice to hear from people who have been to Thamkrabok. I got sober in 2006 as well. I live out in Minburi.

      You are right about sobriety being a great journey. I only went to the temple in an attempt to stop the pain; I’ve been given so much more than this.

  5. I heard your interview on Bangkok Podcast and went out and bought the book. Your story reminds me of some friends of mine and a bit of myself.

  6. Hi Paul, I know you’re a fan of music from your blog and book. I too am a fan of music and also read a lot of rock star memoirs. Currently, I’m reading “I Am Ozzy” – my questions is: would it be possible to have rock music without alcoholism and drug addiction? I don’t think we’d have such great songs like “Paranoid”, “Cocaine”, and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” without the self-destruction of rock stars. What do you think?

    1. Hi Dave, I tend to think that a lot of rock stars make good music despite of their addiction rather than because of them. It is true that a lot of good music is produced by rock musicians who had a reputation for drink and drugs, but a lot of them did their best work during those days that they could stay sober enough to hold a guitar. If Kurt Cobain hadn’t been so messed up by drugs I expect he’d still be famous today; he had a talent that wasn’t drug induced. I recently saw a documentary about the Pixies; they are now in their forties, and it was sad to see one of the members still battling with alcohol and drugs – it no longer seemed glamorous at all and it was obviously impairing him.

  7. Hey Paul, excellent podcast #42. I haven’t heard any of your podcasts before, but it popped up in my Google Reader so I thought- what the heck, I love the Irish accent – I’ll listen to him for a bit.

    Excellent, and glad I did. You have a great voice for audio work, as well as having your head on straight after so long of being addicted to alcohol. Have you ever come across my friend Patrick Meninga at SpiritualRiver (.com)? He also kicked a number of things ahd helped me write my “Kicking Smoking’s Ass!” guide!

    Anyway – just wanted to say – keep up the podcasts and maybe get into some video at youtube as well. Do you have another book coming out? Will you self-publish it – or go with Maverick again?

    Cheers, and have a great weekend.
    Mike Fook recently posted..Writing EBooks for Kindle in a Large Niche

    1. Hi Mike, Spiritual River is one of the websites I follow. There are some good articles on there.

      My podcasts are fairly low-tech, and I wish I’d some proper recording equipment, but I do hope they help people; I enjoy making them anyway. I also have a few videos on YouTube already.

      I am hoping to start on a new book soon, but I’ll have to wait and see.

  8. Dear Paul,

    I am delighted to have found your site. I am also struggling with alcohol addiction, and have tried treatment, church and AA. Nothing feels quite right. A search for “meditation to overcome addiciton” led me to your site! There is a voice inside me that is telling me to sit, embrace the noise in my brain and it will subside. I am glad to see that meditation has worked for others. Thanks for being out there for all of us!

    1. Nice to hear from you Rebecca. Meditation has been a great help to me. This alone wasn’t enough for me to stop drinking, but it certainly helped a great deal. Meditation is a vital component of my recovery.

  9. Hi Paul, I just finished reading your book Dead drunk and loved it. Have you written any other book? Wish you all the best!!

    1. Hi Paul, nice to know that the flood situation has not caused your family much harm. Hoping the situation gets resolved quickly. Take care.

  10. Hi Paul, I picked up your book at random in my local library the other day. Read it practically in one sitting. I really enjoyed it – both your personal story and the way you tell it. I laughed and cried at times. Congratulations on your recovery and I hope you stay healthy. Congrats on your marriage and son also. I will be keeping an eye out for any future books you will hopefully put out.
    Kind regards
    Shauna

  11. I found your blog while searching for other blogs related to Alcohol Recovery. I am only 11 months into my sobriety but the spiritual journey so far has been absolutely incredible. The benefits of meditation & mindfulness have truly opened the doors to happiness for me. I wake up every morning with a great sense of anticipation of what the day will have to offer me. Nothing like my drinking days where I woke up every morning with a sense of dread.

    I started my own blog on the subject. Meditation, Mindfulness & Recovery need to be shared. Not just to alcoholics and drug addicts, but to everyone. The benefits are absolutely amazing.

    Thank you for your blog, it is an inspiration for me. I just wish I found it before I started mine.
    Andy recently posted..State of the Blog – October 16th 2011

  12. Hi Paul,

    What a fantastic website and interesting articles. I’m an Aussie living in London for over 15 years but in a bit of a rut. I have spent some time in Thailand and will be moving over there in October. The thing that I found so great about your website is that it has introduced me to some great new music and also given me motivation to push forward with learning the Thai language.

    I am a guitarist who wants to take a step back in life and write some songs. I am very interested in trying to understand myself a bit better. So as you can understand, stumbling across your website has been a godsend.

    Thank you sir….I will keep an eye out for you whilst in Thailand.

    1. Hi Michael, I’ve only just noticed your comment now – sorry for the delay. I think Thai music might be a great way for you to kill two birds with one stone – learn the language and listen to some great tunes at the same time. I’ve been trying to learn guitar since I was thirteen, but I can still only strum badly – maybe one day 🙂

  13. Paul,
    Interesting take on life. Great to read your success. I’m Rayong based working in Map Ta Phut. If you are still around would like to meet up for a coffee.

  14. Hi Paul,
    read your blog on the village school. I’m wondering if I can find out more about the school from you.
    Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

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